Taliban in a statement on Monday threatened all Afghan TV channels, radio stations and other media outlets to avoid airing and publishing advertisements which the resurgent group believes are a “propaganda against their fighters”.
The group warned to target all those people associated with those media outlets who continue to broadcast anti-Taliban commercials.
This is the second time the group is threatening Afghan media. The first time, they threatened few media outlets over their reports on the fall of the city of Kunduz in northern Kunduz province back in 2016.
The group has given a week deadline to the media outlets to stop these advertisements.
The move by the Taliban was faced with immediate criticism by media supporting organizations. However, the Afghan government has not reacted to this issue so far.
“It is good if they (Taliban) have any objection about the context and content of the commercials and advertisements and discuss their criticism, but it is not good to threaten someone to death. I want to repeat that private media outlets of Afghanistan are operating privately and they are impartial,” said Sediqullah Tawhidi, member of Journalists Safety Committee.
“No group or party or a military force is allowed to determine our job. We are undertaking our job in line with the prevailing laws of Afghanistan,” said Zia Bomia, member of Afghanistan National Journalists Union.
A presidential advisor Hasib Sadat said the Afghan government is committed to working jointly with the media to ensure the safety of journalists in Afghanistan.
“If someone threatens media or a journalist, he is the enemy of Afghanistan,” he said.
Attacks on Media Outlets in Afghanistan
In January 2016, a Taliban suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying employees of Tolo TV, Afghanistan’s most popular private broadcaster, killing seven journalists.
The Taliban had said it bombed the bus because it claimed Tolo was producing propaganda for the US military and its allies.
Journalists in Afghanistan have been threatened or attacked not only by the Taliban but also by fighters from Daesh, government officials and powerful local figures unhappy with news coverage.
The press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 17 shows that the situation of media in Afghanistan has “worsened” as it has descended to 121 from 118 where it stood last year.
The organization has mentioned insecurity as one of the main reasons for an increase in violence against journalists in Afghanistan.
According to RSF, three journalists have been killed in Afghanistan this year.
The RSF says that for Afghanistan’s journalists, 2018 was the deadliest year since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
A total of 15 journalists and media workers were killed in a series of bombings that began early in the year, nine of them in a single day, the RSF says in a report on its website.
Many others were constantly threatened by the various parties to the conflict. The war imposed by the Taliban and Daesh and constant abuses by warlords and corrupt political officials constitutes a permanent threat to journalists, the media and press freedom in Afghanistan.
According to RSF, Women journalists are a favorite target and are especially vulnerable in those regions where fundamentalist propaganda is heeded.
The concern is growing that basic freedoms, including press freedom, could be sacrificed in the course of the international efforts to restore peace in Afghanistan, the RSF says, adding that in response to this threat, the RSF-backed Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists has launched several campaigns for the protection of the rights of women journalists as a precondition for peace.
The experience of the past 17 years confirms that peace and security are what the Afghan people want most, but they cannot be achieved and guaranteed without free and independent media and without guarantees for journalists’ safety, RSF said in its report.